A Pavane for the Nursery by William Jay Smith

Now touch the air softly,
Step gently. One, two…
I’ll love you till roses
Are robin’s-egg blue;
I’ll love you till gravel
Is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange,
And lavender’s red.

Now touch the air softly,
Swing gently the broom.
I’ll love you till windows
Are all of a room;
And the table is laid,
And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes
On bottomless air.

I’ll love you till Heaven
Rips the stars from his coat,
And the Moon rows away in
A glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down
Like a diver below,
And Earth is ablaze,
And Ocean aglow.

So touch the air softly,
And swing the broom high.
We will dust the gray mountains,
And sweep the blue sky;
And I’ll love you as long
As the furrow the plow,
As However is Ever,
And Ever is Now.

From: http://www.gb.nrao.edu/~koneil/personal/wedding/readings.html

Date: 1954

By: William Jay Smith (1918- )

Alternative Title: Now Touch the Air Softly

6 Responses to “A Pavane for the Nursery by William Jay Smith”

  1. This was beautiful! My sister emailed it to me and it linked back to here – so glad I found this. Thank you so much.
    Lorna xx

  2. William Jay Smith is alive and well, and will soon be 96. He continues to write poems and essays and is working on yet another book (His most recent was a biography of his friend Tom Lanier Williams, aka Tennessee Williams, called “My Friend Tom.” Mr Smith is a lovely, thoughtful, kind, and witty man and as brilliant a poet as ever. Thank you for including this poem (one of my favorites of his) and for correctly attributing it to him, with its alternate title. This poem has been set to music by many composers and continues to be a favorite of many composers. I will show him your site, when I see him next, and he will be pleased that he is again among so many of his friends, both present and departed. Have you also considered the work of Eleanor Wilner, Daniel Hoffman, Elizabeth McFarland, Elizabeth Bishop, Barbara Howes…?

    Best wishes.

  3. I read this poem about eleven maybe twelve years ago back when I was in high school. Being a creative artist myself, I immediately fell in love with this wonderful piece of art. I recently lost my brother due to a sudden health condition and I could think of no words to express my love for him other than the ones residing in this magical work of art. I appreciate the literature and emotion that this poem gives to those open enough to understand it. William Jay Smith is a brilliant and gifted man, and I want to thank him for giving me the words to share with my loved ones in this unmentionable time of sorrow. I know this will bring their spirits up and help us all remember how much my dear brother meant to all of us.

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